Got Reel Mower Questions?

We’d love your feedback. Do you have burning questions about using or assembling reel mowers that we haven’t answered?

Let us know, so that we can improve this site! If there are any models that we’re missing, please let us know.

Leave us a comment with your question, and we’ll do our best to answer it for you. If we don’t know the answer, we’ll look it up!

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Charlie Koerwer August 23, 2009 at 9:07 pm

I have a small area on my property that is more weed, moss, and clover with grass in different spots. Soil is poor and it is shady so I don’t have great expectations. I will probably put some more effort into this year but in my mind it is not a priority.

I have been using an inexpensive reel mower for the past several years and I find that it worked well initially but it is more knocking over rather than cutting. I have sharpened the blades a few times but I believe I now need a new mower.

Question is will a reel mower really work in this type of situation ?

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admin February 22, 2010 at 4:53 pm

@Charlie,

In general, reel mowers work better on grass than they do on weeds.

I don’t think a new reel mower is going to necessarily solve your problems. I think it might just be the limitations of that type of mower and your type of lawn.

You might have to accept having to mow over areas more than once to get everything, or you might just consider switching to some kind of rotary mower instead. There are several electric mowers that are still small and don’t require messing with gasoline. Not as simple as a manual reel mower, but still a pretty good choice.

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Richard September 14, 2009 at 11:28 am

I am looking for a exceptionally light weight push reel mower that can tackle St. Augestine Grass, is extremely well built, will last forever and is about $150 or less.

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admin February 22, 2010 at 4:51 pm

@Richard,

In my experience using a reel mower on my own St Augustine lawn, I have had the best luck with the Scotts Classic and the Mascot.

http://reelmowerreviews.com/mascot-18-inch-push-reel-mower/

http://reelmowerreviews.com/scotts-classic-push-reel-mower/

Of the two, I like the Mascot best, by far. That’s what I’m using now.

With a thick grass like St Augustine, a heavier mower is able to plow through the grass better than a lightweight mower. Lightweight mowers like the Brill are outstanding for many types of grasses, but not St Augustine.

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Richard February 20, 2010 at 6:14 pm

I live in AZ and wonder about bremuda grass. Is there a reel mower that is efficent for this type of grass?

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admin February 22, 2010 at 4:48 pm

@Richard, For Bermuda, there are a few different choices.

The Mascot works on Bermuda, Zoysia and St Augustine.
http://reelmowerreviews.com/mascot-18-inch-push-reel-mower/

The Scotts Classic works on Bermuda, but can be hard to push.
http://reelmowerreviews.com/scotts-classic-push-reel-mower/

The American Lawnmower 7 bladed mower is designed for grasses like Bermuda.
http://reelmowerreviews.com/american-lawn-mower-bent-grass-light-push-reel-mower/

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Mark Leonard March 15, 2010 at 12:02 pm

Do they make a reel mower with a cutting height higher than 3 inches? How much trouble is it to sharpen reel mower blades and how often do you sharpen?

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lars March 15, 2010 at 2:46 pm

Thanks for your question.

Most people don’t cut their grass that high, but I have some options for you.

The Scotts Classic has a maximum cut of 3 inches. (But not higher than that.)

The new Fiskars Momentum reel mower has a 4 inch maximum cut. You can find it here:
http://www.cleanairgardening.com/fiskars-momentum-reel-mower.html

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Jerry March 21, 2010 at 5:35 pm

I live in northern Ohio and have a 0.3 acre lawn that is mainly Kentucky Bluegrass and some ryegrass. Grows very thick and tall in spring and then thins out some with hot/dry summers we usually have. Can you recommend a push reel mower that will handle thick Bluegrass as well as thinner summer grass growth?

Thanks!

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lars March 21, 2010 at 5:40 pm

@Jerry,

For the northern part of the country, I like the Brill Razorcut 38 mower the best. It does a really excellent job with bluegrass and rye grass.

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Beverly March 26, 2010 at 5:57 am

I have a rental property about 40 miles south of San Francisco.
Last August I planted about 550 plugs of Buffalo grass which are slowly filling in a 25′ x 20′ area.
I would like to know which of the reel mowers you would recommend. Ideally, I want to keep this grass mowed between 1″ to 2″, but it can grow as high as 3″ to 6″ if left unmowed.

Buffalo grass is a warm season grass, has a very deep root system, is very drought tolerant when established, and only requires mowing about once a month.
Thanks.

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lars March 26, 2010 at 11:22 am

@Beverly,

I am familiar with Buffalo grass, because I had some in my own lawn at my last house.

I would recommend three different mowers that would work well with this type of grass.

The new Fiskars reel mower cuts up to 4 inches tall.
http://www.cleanairgardening.com/fiskars-momentum-reel-mower.html

The Scotts Classic is what I used to use on my lawn that had a mix of Bermuda and Buffalograss.
http://www.cleanairgardening.com/scotclasreel1.html

And the Mascot mower is a six bladed mower that will do well through thick grass that hasn’t been mowed in a while.
http://www.cleanairgardening.com/mascot-reel-mower.html

Let me know what you choose, and how it works out for you!

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Jeanette March 30, 2010 at 11:58 am

Hi, I’m just curious to know why Craftsman reel mowers are not on your list. We’ve owned ours since 2001 and are now looking for a replacement. (We have St. Augustine grass.) I’d like to see how Craftsman compares to the mowers listed on your site. Thanks.

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lars March 30, 2010 at 12:55 pm

@Jeanette,

Thanks for your question.

Craftsman reel mowers are manufactured by American Lawnmower / Great States. So they are the same mowers, with a different sticker.

But you make a good point! I will figure out the Craftsman model numbers and add that information to those mowers, so it is clear that they are the same thing.

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Steve April 1, 2010 at 8:59 pm

Are there any fundamental differences between the Sunlawn LMM40 and the Brill mowers? I live in Indiana, and like a previous poster from Kentucky, I have a mixture of Kentucky Bluegrass and rye grass. There are a few weeds thrown in for good measure, but I’m aware of a reel mower’s limitations with weeds. Thanks!

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lars April 1, 2010 at 9:05 pm

@Steve,

Sunlawn went bankrupt, and it is no longer possible to purchase a Sunlawn mower. The LMM40 was based on an older Brill Luxus 40 design from the 1990s from what I understand, so they were very similar.

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Jeremy April 7, 2010 at 10:45 pm

In my personal opinion, based on using an American Lawn Mower Co. brand (we still have one, an 18″), the “Agrifab” model design called a silent cut model (or “no contact” reel mower), Brill and Sunlawn (which is not around anymore), you can’t get a better reel mower than the Argifab designed silent cut model that Power-draulics of Lancaster, PA sells. I think you can also go to “Reel Mowers Etc.” and see them on Margie King’s site. Agrifab itself no longer makes a reel mower. But there is an American based company that has a Chinese plant make the identical Agrifab18″ and 21″ reel mowers. They ship to the Lancaster, PA business and Power-draulics inspects and tweaks them so when they ship them out you have one that works great. I have acquired two used “Agrifab” style models and they all are hands down better built, cut as well or better than any other. They are heavy enough to hold the intended push line better than the lightweight Brills and Sunlawns (although the Sunlawn MM2 (7-blade) was a really great design and much heavier than the rest of the models that Sunlawn sold). Best of all, the Agrifab style (sometimes called “Silent Cut,” “Mascot” and Amish Mower) have 6 blades and are nearly silent when the reel blades spin if you adjust them correctly in relationship to the cutting bar. They also have a roller bar as opposed to two extra wheels on the backside. A leveling and stable roller bar is better in my use experience.

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lars April 8, 2010 at 5:20 pm

@Jeremy,

I use a Mascot on my own St Augustine lawn, and agree that the weight of the mower is helpful plowing through thicker grass types.

http://www.cleanairgardening.com/mascot-reel-mower.html

If you like heavier mowers, you’ll probably also like the new Fiskars Momentum reel mower:

http://www.cleanairgardening.com/fiskars-momentum-reel-mower.html

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David April 10, 2010 at 2:59 pm

I just moved to a new house with a relatively small lawn. I am interesting in buying a Fiskars mower, but it doesn’t come with a grass catcher. Isn’t is bad for the lawn to leave the grass clippings on it?

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lars April 12, 2010 at 2:48 pm

@David,

In general, it’s better to leave the clippings on your lawn.

Those clippings contain nitrogen from the grass blades, and over the course of a season can mean one less fertilization of the grass that you would have to otherwise pay for.

The only time clippings are bad is if you have an existing thatch problem. And then, you’d want to collect clippings until the thatch problem was solved. Clippings don’t CAUSE thatch though, which is a common misconception.

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jerry&twix April 10, 2010 at 6:04 pm

How to raise the height of an American Reel mower

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R May 2, 2010 at 8:03 pm

Which mower do you have pictured in the 20 inch category the one that is orange and black? thanks

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lars May 5, 2010 at 8:39 pm

@R,

Those mowers in the top right are just generic rotating photos of various reel mowers that I got from a stock photo, for visual interest. Looking at that one, it isn’t a 20 inch mower. It’s smaller than that. It’s probably a Great States / American Lawnmower model.

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BD May 5, 2010 at 8:35 pm

What are the sturdiest model(s) of reel mowers on the market?
Our lawn is tough on light and non-durable models, as we trashed our Scotts Green Classic in less than a season. Any advice?

David, as far as I know it’s good to leave your mulched clippings on the lawn as it helps recycle the nutrients (and therefore your lawn will need less fertilizer).

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Katherine May 12, 2011 at 8:51 pm

We bought a new Husqvarna push reel last summer. It worked fantastically – I thought mowing the lawn with it was actually relaxing. But when we pulled it out to use it for the first time this spring it acted completely differently. It’s hard to push and stops unexpectedly, seemingly because it gets grass clogged in it, between the blades and the piece of metal that runs along the bottom. We applied WD-40 but that did not help at all. Do the blades need sharpened?

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steve2266 May 18, 2011 at 9:42 am

@katherine, I doubt the reel needs sharpening, it sounds like it needs to be adjusted. Spin the reel and see if it stops or makes a sound like it’s hitting the cutting bar. If so, follow the instructions and adjust the reel, this will likely solve the problem. Also, WD-40 is not the best lubricant, try using a silicone lubricant in the future.

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jane June 1, 2011 at 2:58 pm

I have a pretty weedy lawn. My current (second hand) reel mower does NOT get the dandelions. Can you suggest an affordable model that will surely get those weeds?!

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lars June 2, 2011 at 12:49 pm

@jane

Dandelions are the mortal enemy of reel mowers. If reel mowers are Superman, then Dandelions are Kryptonite. There’s not really a model that deals with them effectively, unfortunately.

When I had a yard with dandelions, my strategy was to pull them out as I walked over them and they didn’t get cut. Over time, the number of dandelions came down and it wasn’t as big of an issue.

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